I was born in New Orleans
on Mardi Gras’ tail.
In 1979, i tucked the picture
of my mother’s painted belly
and cat’s eyes
into the edge of my mirror.  

She showed me once how
to lite pressed incense
in its brass burner with Fleur-de-Lis cutouts.
Sandalwood and patchouli filled my head,
under the yellow canopy of my childhood bed.   

I have stared at that picture,
her pregnant belly and painted eyes,
remembering those gray-green smoke rings
the shape of Fleur-de-Lis dreams,
drifting through me
as I unbraided my hair,
pinched color into my cheeks,
and painted my eyes.